Sabbath Message 26/4/28/120
One of the matters that raise its head on a regular basis is that of trust in the Churches of God. CCG has a clearly defined set of beliefs and a clearly defined system of administration. Its members, after a trial period, are admitted to voting membership and have a legal say in the conduct and administration of the Church.
Unlike most other Churches of God, the members actually own and control the operations of the Church through their elected officials. We have dealt with this issue on previous occasions, but it seems to re-occur with some regularity and it is a cause of concern to the members of the Church.
It should be a matter of ethics to any person professing to follow Christ that their word is their bond. They should also be honour bound to not damage or attack those who they claim to accept as following Christ.
We have seen many people join CCG claiming to be baptised members of the Churches of God and to agree with our position. They claim to agree with our doctrines and yet they really have other agendas. Some, in fact, seem to be dedicated to the destruction of any organised structure.
By and large prospective members fall into two categories. The first are those genuinely seeking the Church of God due to Bible study. The second type of people is those drawn to the Church of God due to a desire to associate. This desire is often for a number of different reasons.
The first type are usually not a problem if they are genuine and have studied the doctrines, and do in fact agree on the basics. They learn as they go.
The second type can be from any direction and any association. Sometimes groups come to us comprised of people in all different levels of understanding and association. These people are often very problematic.
Usually the Church HQ will deal with these groups by simple circumstance of their approach. Sometimes individual ministry are confronted with groups due to our contact procedures and the failure to identify the larger group on the initial approach to us.
The more serious problem that the individual ministry has to deal with in the area contact situation is that of the deliberately disruptive agent provocateur. We do get them and they have very few principles. They claim to agree with us but, in fact, are there simply to try to find a means of attacking our organisation. Coordinators are to ensure that these people are screened out. They must in every instance be made to comply with our procedures and undertakings before they are admitted to fellowship.
It should be a fairly simple and well-accepted proposition that a group of people under the Law are able to form and fellowship and worship their God in the manner in which they all agree. They should be free to worship without disruption and unprovoked attacks against their quiet enjoyment and the protection of the society in which they live.
Yet, that is most often not the case in the people claiming to be baptised and following the procedures of the Church of God offshoots, and especially those of the Armstrong persuasion.
Often when confronted with their dishonest behaviour, the reaction is to attack the administration and often to attack me as the spokesman of the CCG. When it is not the Coordinators General being attacked, it is usually the area or Regional Coordinator in question. Most often it is escalated to the World Conference HQ for action and so the railing accusations are levelled at the Coordinators General, but sometimes it is levelled at the Secretaries. Sometimes people find it difficult to accept that women hold high office by election in the Church, and that the General Secretaries speak for the Coordinators-General. Well, that is a fact of life and we had all better get used to it. CCG is a genuine level playing field within Biblical law and structure. Any female appointed to an office carries the authority of that office whether it is a forum moderator, or secretary, or whatever and is to be respected.
Because we went about our business in a quiet manner we were ignored in the early days of the disintegration of the Churches of God. However, we are growing and our influence is spreading and so the Antinomians and Anti-organisation cranks are now turning their attention towards us as we represent a very significant organised and intellectually influential structure. By and large, these people are theologically disparate and by their very philosophy are either disorganised or represent various groups that wish to disrupt the Churches of God. Their attacks are often confused and incoherent and usually highly unethical. They usually make false statements and accuse others.
This practice and method of attack is not confined to recent times and has been evident throughout the history of the Church. Many seek to discredit the history of the Church of God as a coherent long-term theological group. This is necessary to deny the ongoing Church of God under Jesus Christ. It is a matter of record that Christ said that the gates of death would not prevail against his Church, and that means that somewhere on this planet a Church must exist that is doing the same thing now that was done at the time of Christ.
Apologists for the Trinitarian system seek to claim it for
themselves and deny that proposition to others, although their theology was
not present until the end of the fourth century from the Council of Constantinople
in 381 CE. They are also Sunday worshipping, except for the SDA system that
was penetrated by the Trinitarians of the European churches and turned to Trinitarian
theology whilst remaining Sabbath-keeping. The general progression of the groups
are identified in the paper Role of the Fourth
Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170).
The broader Sabbath-keeping churches are detailed in the paper General
Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122).
Sunday worship was not present in Christianity in the first century, nor was the Church Binitarian or Ditheist in the first century. The beliefs of the Early Church are covered in the papers Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127) and The Original Doctrines of the Christian Faith (No. 88).
Attempts at destroying the faith and the Church and its structure have been ongoing for millennia. The leaders are always attacked and many have been killed for the faith. Why should it be any different now in these end times?
What we expect of our ministry and membership is an undertaking to abide by the doctrines and system of the Church and to uphold its beliefs in all areas and forums in which the members operate or are exposed.
We do not expect to find officers attacking Church doctrines, no matter where they are operating. We expect ethical behaviour from our ministry and our members. There is no excuse for an officer of the Church to be in disagreement with a doctrine of the Church and not having brought such disagreement to the Church, and abiding by its teachings until such issue is resolved. There are procedures for the resolution of such issues. Ethics dictate the approach according to procedure and the constitution.
One of the things that the Church faces all the time is the poverty of developing nations. They have perceived needs and the predominant stated need is the necessity of funds. Consequently, groups wishing to join us approach us sometimes solely for monetary and support reasons. We have to make sure of such approaches and make sure that the Church is not being used for the wrong reasons. As a rule, we help where we can. We try to help those people with projects.
These perceived needs sometimes see group leaders approach multiple churches at the same time. It is not unusual for us to be approached by people who are also approaching other Churches of God simultaneously. Now, it is obvious that one cannot join say the WCG and ourselves and be honest about the matter as we now have diverse views on such critical issues as the Nature of God and the Calendar. Yet, that is what happens to us often.
We are in the process right now of sorting out no less than forty churches with some four thousand odd people over five nations. Each says they are serious about our doctrines and some are genuine and some are not, and some have people that do not know what they believe. Some do not even have Bibles to determine what they believe and are driven by necessity or force of circumstance to follow leaders and groups, and trust to them for guidance. We have to make sense of it all and to ensure that God is calling and dealing with each one. We have to husband the resources of the Church in a faithful manner to the members who entrust us with the leadership of the Church. This is also in spite of the fact that we do not have significant resources
Sometimes we are forced to deal with and discuss the most appropriate courses of action with leaders of other churches. Of recent days we have had to discuss the issue of two church groups in Asia with regional leaders of two separate Churches of God. We all try to make the best decisions that help those people concerned according to what they really believe and what is most beneficial to those involved.
What should dictate our behaviour is a sense of ethics and responsibility to those who come into contact with us. If we are part of CCG, then we have an ethical responsibility to adhere to its teachings and to protect its interests. If any one of us finds themselves in the position that they do not really agree, then they have an obligation to face up to that fact. They have to bring the problem to the administration and if the body does not agree with them, they must remove themselves as quietly as possible. No one has asked anyone to believe any thing that is not clearly published and agreed by the body of the Church. The administration has no choice but to support and protect the doctrines of the Church. That role is expected of it.
It is a matter of seriously unethical action for any one to teach contrary to the doctrines of the Church whilst holding office in the Church.
Our officers usually work for no wages. We do have a paid staff but they are not the rule. It is written that the labourer is worthy of his hire, but the leaders in CCG often work for gratis in the execution of their duties and their responsibilities to the Church. No one is paid for what they do on the Sabbath in CCG. That is a regulation of the Church. We are grateful for this dedication in the Church. However, the fact that someone does not get paid does not lessen the ethical responsibility on them to adhere to the operating procedures of the CCG. These people all agree and defend the doctrine of the Church. Where they see a problem, they follow due process.
We have said many times that we don’t want people that don’t believe what we believe. We wish that all men would understand, but we are not prepared to have congregations in disarray and in conflicting beliefs. We all speak the same thing and we legislate to that effect.
The basic doctrines of the Church are not negotiable. They were all adopted by referendum of the Church and they are not the sole views or property of any one man in the Church. Our detractors lie about us and try to say that they are the dictates or whim of individuals, usually the leaders, but that is false and demonstrably so.
In some ways, we are determined in our beliefs and sometimes this is misconstrued as inflexibility. The truth will set us free and only the truth will do so (cf. the paper Truth (No. 168)).
If you have been given responsibility, then exercise that office in trust and fidelity. Commission means to go forth with a mission, being formed from two Latin words. If you do not intend to discharge your commission diligently, then you should not accept the commission. Count the cost before you accept the task.
It is a matter of fact that people come to the knowledge of the truth gradually. Many come from associations that did not allow or encourage individual study. Consequently people, when faced with the large area of study of the history of the faith, get sidetracked in silly ideas and get blown about by every wind of doctrine.
Each person must divide the word of truth carefully. We see people get sidetracked by silly issues and by others who deliberately seek to divert or disrupt the faith with fallacy. Some simply cannot see through what should be basic errors.
For example, the Calendar forms what can be described as a hot bed of error. No person with any knowledge of the Calendar and its history would genuinely claim that the modern Jewish calendar was any older than 344 CE, when it was brought to Chief Rabbi Hillel II by two Babylonian Rabbis and who then declared it in 358 CE. The postponement system was not even formulated fully then and it continued for some nine centuries in development. Yet, we have uninformed people who try to defend it as being in use at the time of Christ, when we know without doubt from the historical evidence that it was not in use at all or even formulated.
We know for a fact that the calendar in The Book of Enoch and The Book of Jubilees was never used in the Temple and was never endorsed by Christ and the Church, who kept the Temple Calendar, but people try to use that system to disrupt the Church of God.
We also know that the Samaritan calendar was never used in the Temple system or by Christ and the Church and is incorrect even though it follows the Conjunctions, as did the Temple system. People also try to use that calendar to disrupt the Church.
We know what the history of the Calendar is and we are not confused by winds of doctrine. It is sad when people simply try to find novelties so that they can be distant from the organised historical faith.
It is often as though people have a desire to be different from the historical Church so that they can have an excuse not to conform. In fact, it appears that many people are attracted by the Church of God simply because it is diverse from the Trinitarians. They can use the Bible doctrines against their old associations and still not be compelled by truth. They resist the concept that the Church is ancient and has sound historical doctrine.
An example is the determination of the New Year. In determining the beginning of the Biblical Calendar there has never been any argument between Judah and Christianity as to the determination of the New Year of Abib (not Tishri in Judaism used for the determination of the molad of the modern Jewish calendar).
The Church of God and the Trinitarian system and Judah and the nations have determined the New Year as the New Moon nearest the Spring equinox in the Northern hemisphere. That is why the Easter system is, more or less, the same as Passover when determined from the conjunction, free of the postponements. Early Christianity had been determining the Calendar for three centuries before Hillel II introduced the Jewish calendar based on postponements and calculations.
Had a person followed the Hillel calendar or the Samaritan
calendar in 2005, then they would have had all the barley harvest ripe and harvested
well before the date for any Wave sheaf offering that could come due in April.
The ripening had commenced in early March and was fully ripe by the second week of the Moon in April, which was demonstrably the second month. The Karaites also have observed this fact and declared the New Year in March by observation, confirming what was determined by the calculations of the Conjunctions.
Why then do people get sidetracked into novelties and ancient errors such as the Samaritan system and the Hillel system, and lately the paganism of The Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, which seems to have reared its ugly head along with racism?
They do it because they want it to be different so they do
not have to follow the concept of an organised church.
This view is usually accompanied by a denial of the tithing system (see the paper Tithing (No. 161)). The denial usually accompanies a claim that the priesthood is confined to Levi, and the nonexistent Temple, not the extended order of Melchisedek under its new High Priest Jesus Christ. That is despite the clear direction of the book of Hebrews.
It is a basic doctrine of CCG that tithing is required of the
faith. If you don’t agree, then you have no place with us.
That is not all that difficult to comprehend. Some, however, come to deny that premise in their being blown by winds of doctrine.
Most churches today are antinomian. CCG is not antinomian. In these Last Days you can grow and prosper and become wealthy in the “religion business” with the health wealth gospel of the US Pentecostal evangelism. Such views cannot survive adversity and will crumble in the days ahead. However, they will seek to destroy every clear pronouncement of the Church of God before they do die. So too, their predecessors tried to kill the prophets of God over the centuries.
If you don’t understand something, then seek guidance. If you can’t agree, then ethics demand that you behave honourably and resign. However, make sure you are not dragging others into the mire with you and you are not simply trying to justify your own errors.
It is not a difficult concept to grasp that a group of people have come together to follow the Bible and Jesus Christ and adhere to the historical doctrines of the Church of God over the two millennia of the faith. They do not proselytise and seek only to fellowship with like-minded people.
They welcome others in fellowship and seek only to be left alone to worship God in the manner of their determination according to Bible truth.
In a sense of love and fellowship each of us seeks to help each other and to grow in the faith. Keep focussed on that love of one another and show thereby that we love God.
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